Certbot renew stopped working at all


Please fill out the fields below so we can help you better. Note: you must provide your domain name to get help. Domain names for issued certificates are all made public in Certificate Transparency logs (e.g. https://crt.sh/?q=example.com), so withholding your domain name here does not increase secrecy, but only makes it harder for us to provide help.

My domain is:
(The error occurs since last version update on this and all other domains hosted on this server)

I ran this command:
certbot renew

It produced this output:
Processing /etc/letsencrypt/renewal/www.perlenschweine.de.conf

Cert is due for renewal, auto-renewing…
Plugins selected: Authenticator apache, Installer apache
Renewing an existing certificate
Attempting to renew cert (www.perlenschweine.de) from /etc/letsencrypt/renewal/www.perlenschweine.de.conf produced an unexpected error: urn:ietf:params:acme:error:rateLimited :: There were too many requests of a given type :: Error creating new order :: too many failed authorizations recently: see https://letsencrypt.org/docs/rate-limits/. Skipping.
All renewal attempts failed. The following certs could not be renewed:
/etc/letsencrypt/live/www.perlenschweine.de/fullchain.pem (failure)

My web server is (include version):
ii apache2 2.4.7-1ubuntu4.21
The operating system my web server runs on is (include version):
Ubuntu 14.04
My hosting provider, if applicable, is:

I can login to a root shell on my machine (yes or no, or I don’t know):
I’m using a control panel to manage my site (no, or provide the name and version of the control panel):
The version of my client is (e.g. output of certbot --version or certbot-auto --version if you’re using Certbot):
certbot 0.28.0


Hi @Arheddis

your current error

means: You have to wait one hour (max. 5 failed authorizations / hour) or you use the test system.

But the real problem may be ( https://check-your-website.server-daten.de/?q=perlenschweine.de ):

Domainname Http-Status redirect Sec. G
http://perlenschweine.de/ 302 https://perlenschweine.de// 0.014 A
http://www.perlenschweine.de/ 302 https://www.perlenschweine.de// 0.013 A
https://perlenschweine.de/ 403 1.337 N
Certificate error: RemoteCertificateNameMismatch
https://perlenschweine.de// -14 10.027 T
Timeout - The operation has timed out
https://www.perlenschweine.de/ 200 5.307 A
https://www.perlenschweine.de// -14 10.020 T
Timeout - The operation has timed out
http://perlenschweine.de/.well-known/acme-challenge/check-your-website-dot-server-daten-dot-de -14 10.027 T
Timeout - The operation has timed out
http://www.perlenschweine.de/.well-known/acme-challenge/check-your-website-dot-server-daten-dot-de -14 10.037 T
Timeout - The operation has timed out

Earlier, you may have used tls-sni-01 - validation. But this is deprecated, so certbot uses http-01 validation. Then an open port 80 is required. Certbot creates a file in /.well-known/acme-challenge, Letsencrypt checks this file.

But checking a file there -> timeout.

What’s your configuration?

And there is a wrong redirect, one / too much is added.


You can try using “certbot renew --dry-run” for now. The staging system has separate (and higher) rate limits, so you’ll be able to see the real reason it fails.


Ah, ok.
Now http is served: See https://www.perlenschweine.de/.well-known/acme-challenge/acme
But certbot renew --dryrun produces:
Processing /etc/letsencrypt/renewal/www.perlenschweine.de.conf

Cert is due for renewal, auto-renewing…
Plugins selected: Authenticator apache, Installer apache
Renewing an existing certificate
Performing the following challenges:
http-01 challenge for www.perlenschweine.de
Cleaning up challenges
Attempting to renew cert (www.perlenschweine.de) from /etc/letsencrypt/renewal/www.perlenschweine.de.conf produced an unexpected error: Unable to insert label!. Skipping.


The command is --dry-run


Sorry, there is still a redirect to https, have to check, sorry for that.


This isn’t a problem, Letsencrypt follows redirects and ignores certificate errors.

If the redirect is correct (same subfolder), that shouldn’t be a problem.


Ok. Command issued was “certbot renew --dry-run” (typo in post …)
It produced the error above.


First of all: THX for your assistance!
Here’s the log:
2019-01-26 17:06:59,061:WARNING:certbot.renewal:Attempting to renew cert (www.perlenschweine.de) from /etc/letsencrypt/renewal/www.perlenschweine.de.conf produced an unexpected error: Unable to insert label!. Skipping.
2019-01-26 17:06:59,062:DEBUG:certbot.renewal:Traceback was:
Traceback (most recent call last):
File “/usr/lib/python3/dist-packages/certbot/renewal.py”, line 430, in handle_renewal_request
main.renew_cert(lineage_config, plugins, renewal_candidate)
File “/usr/lib/python3/dist-packages/certbot/main.py”, line 1168, in renew_cert
renewed_lineage = _get_and_save_cert(le_client, config, lineage=lineage)
File “/usr/lib/python3/dist-packages/certbot/main.py”, line 116, in _get_and_save_cert
renewal.renew_cert(config, domains, le_client, lineage)
File “/usr/lib/python3/dist-packages/certbot/renewal.py”, line 305, in renew_cert
new_cert, new_chain, new_key, _ = le_client.obtain_certificate(domains, new_key)
File “/usr/lib/python3/dist-packages/certbot/client.py”, line 335, in obtain_certificate
orderr = self._get_order_and_authorizations(csr.data, self.config.allow_subset_of_names)
File “/usr/lib/python3/dist-packages/certbot/client.py”, line 371, in _get_order_and_authorizations
authzr = self.auth_handler.handle_authorizations(orderr, best_effort)
File “/usr/lib/python3/dist-packages/certbot/auth_handler.py”, line 75, in handle_authorizations
resp = self._solve_challenges(aauthzrs)
File “/usr/lib/python3/dist-packages/certbot/auth_handler.py”, line 132, in _solve_challenges
resp = self.auth.perform(all_achalls)
File “/usr/lib/python3/dist-packages/certbot_apache/configurator.py”, line 2280, in perform
http_response = http_doer.perform()
File “/usr/lib/python3/dist-packages/certbot_apache/http_01.py”, line 72, in perform
File “/usr/lib/python3/dist-packages/certbot_apache/http_01.py”, line 97, in _mod_config
File “/usr/lib/python3/dist-packages/certbot_apache/http_01.py”, line 172, in _set_up_include_directives
vhost.path, “Include”, self.challenge_conf_pre)
File “/usr/lib/python3/dist-packages/certbot_apache/parser.py”, line 346, in add_dir_beginning
self.aug.insert(first_dir, “directive”, True)
File “/usr/lib/python3/dist-packages/augeas.py”, line 369, in insert
raise ValueError(“Unable to insert label!”)
ValueError: Unable to insert label!


This means that you’ve found a bug in Certbot that relates to something unusual about your Apache configuration. Could you share your Apache configuration with us somehow?

@joohoi, have you ever seen this Augeas error before?


Hi Mr. schoen,

how to share my config? I don’t like the idea of posting my config files to the public… Any upload site or per mail?



You could send it to my forum username at eff.org.


Mail is on it’s way.


Are you sure you didn’t use


Then it would be the -d option with ry-run as domain name, this label is too short to create a certificate.


No, it was --dry-run
Double hyphen, checked my bash history.


But, strange enough, the “label” error has disappeared over night. Ran certbot renew --dry-run and got:
HTTP Status 403, forbidden on http://www.perlenschweine.de/.well-known/acme-challenge/tIfjydYkqHu1XO8UjF2pmudv9IabT6oKPgj1DDEpXn4

wget on this URL gives 404. That’s ok, there is no file with this name, certbot never created it. I guess, certbot should.
certbot runs as root, it schould be able to create a file in apaches file system.


Solved it!
Had to do some debugging… -vvv flag did it.
This problem was missing access rights for apache user www-data on
/var/lib/letsencrypt (was: root:root, 750)
For all out there in the wild, here’s a short description what’s going on with letsencrypt’s http authentication:

  1. certbot aquires a one time challenge key from letsencrypt.org
  2. This key is placed in /var/lib/letsencrypt/http-challenges
  3. The apache config is temporarily rewritten by certbot to redirect corresponding requests to that dir.
  4. A graceful restart of apache is performed, so that the rewritten apache config gets activated.
  5. letsencrypt performs a http get on .well-known/acme-challenge/ witch gets redirected to /var/lib/letsencrypt/http-challenges/. That’s why apache needs read access to that path!
  6. The authentication get’s confirmed, the cert is updated and the original apache config get’s restored.

Solution (as root): cd /var/lib; chown -R root:www-data letsencrypt

Certbot must check read access for web-server user on renewal

Happy to read that it works now.

If someone uses webroot as authenticator, no redirect is required. Instead the real webroot / DocumentRoot is used.


But what if there is no usable webroot? Nextcloud for example stops updating if there are any unknown artifacts in it’s webroot. Will .well_known/ be deleted after a renewal?

Anyways, i’m online and secure again. THX a lot!


This is a curious thing. Nextcloud should ignore such standard-directories.

If required, you can run a --post-hook command.

--post-hook POST_HOOK
                        Command to be run in a shell after attempting to
                        obtain/renew certificates. Can be used to deploy
                        renewed certificates, or to restart any servers that
                        were stopped by --pre-hook. This is only run if an
                        attempt was made to obtain/renew a certificate. If
                        multiple renewed certificates have identical post-
                        hooks, only one will be run. (default: None)